May 12th, 2011
Social media is a growing force in today’s online world, and it’s a fantastic tool for promotion and building a client base, as well as enhancing, or building, your reputation. But it is entirely useless, possibly even damaging, if your website, the foundation rock of the Internet, is not up to scratch. Social media should be seen as the icing on the cake, but it is so important to have a decent sponge to start with…
Even with online guides such as Cotswold Food, the majority of users click through to view the individual websites of the restaurants we feature. It is there they make their decision to book or not to book, and all our hard work in driving traffic to your site can be undone in an instant.
A simple approach is often best when it comes to restaurant websites, and very often less is most definitely more.
• Flash animation should be avoided, it can’t be viewed on many mobile devices, is large and time consuming to download over mobile connections and is distracting and irritating on stationary browsers – so why use it?
• If it is absolutely vital you have an all singing all dancing flash based animated front page, then seriously consider a clean, impressive mobile version of your site. All restaurant websites regardless of flash should be at least pleasing to use on mobile devices and easy to read, if not a separate mobile enhanced site is a must.
• Photographs should be the best they can be both in terms of technical and aesthetic quality. They are pictures into your world, your restaurant, so make sure they reflect what it is you are all about.
• Perhaps most importantly, keep crucial information up to date. Seasonal menus, opening times, events, special occasions. Don’t let them get behind and out of date or the whole image of your restaurant will suffer. You can have the best ethos in the world, local, organic, changing menus but if your site is out of date it just says ‘lazy’ and ‘inept’ to the viewer.
• Consider online booking systems. A recent survey by American Express suggested that more and more users (A hefty 80%) are looking to book via the restaurant’s website after researching their restaurants online. However, if this is not foolproof, easy to use and accurate, you are better off without it. Nothing is more frustrating than an imperfect online booking system, especially if it leaves the customer unsure if they have booked or waiting for the restaurant to ‘get back to them’ – never a good idea.